Engineer Specs

November 4, 2008

During the recent Witching Night event, I felt like it was time to really experiment with Syp’s specs to give me something of a sporting edge in open RvR. Respeccing is pretty cheap — right now I’m paying ~2-3gold per respec — and what else am I going to spend the money on?

Open RvR is a different beast than scenarios, and requires a different approach to PvP. Scenarios are somewhat balanced in numbers, have definite objectives and a tight timetable to operate in. ORvR, on the other hand, can be wildly unbalanced in numbers, have loose objectives, and infinite time. When there’s a clear objective for a group in ORvR — like taking a keep — things get more dynamic and exciting. When there’s not, the objective settles into a World War I trench war between two hefty armies who aren’t necessarily inclined to charging unless they have an overwhelming advantage. Hence, it becomes a sniping affair, where people respawn and run back far faster than players on their side are killed. Kind of a zero sum game.

(Side note: that makes me wonder if Mythic shouldn’t explore limited resources in terms of player numbers sometime. What if you only got X number of “lives” in ORvR or scenarios a day, and once you used them up, you could no longer respawn? Other than the incredible outrage and nerd tempers this would cause, it could actually force people to think and work strategically, to make every life count instead of throwing bodies around as disposable meatshields.)

So where was I? Oh. Open RvR and new specs. So I cycled through the three Engineer specs — Tinkerer, Rifleman, Grenadier — to see what worked best for mass zerging/converging armies combat.


Lots of people who really don’t know any better have turned on the faucets of hatred against Engineers for their Electromagnet (EM) ability, which sucks a whole bunch of enemies in and turns on the hurt. The skill may be borked and overpowered, but the class and spec surely are not — the opposite, in fact. Tinkerer is a muddled path, the “short range” gadgets patch that appeals to me as a theme. Yet when you look into it, there’s no clear direction for it, plus pretty much all of the key abilities (apart from blunderbuss and tactic-improved Turret dropping) require cast times, which are death in RvR. It’s a salad buffet of a spec, a little here and a little there but little overall when you’re done.

So many of the Tinkerer abilities are meant to be used at short range — land mine, flame turret, lightning rod, Bugman’s Best — which ensures that a Tinkerer-spec’d Engineer will be throwing themselves into harm’s way almost constantly to be effective, which is counter-intuitive to our light armor survivability. While I do like skills like lightning rod, the cast time is unacceptable for how short the range and duration of the gadget proves to be. Same with Bugman’s Best, the “healing beer” that is fun to use the first six or seven hundred times, but soon you’ll find yourself casting it again and again (at two seconds a pop) just to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth from the weak AOE heal.

Suffice to say, single-target damage is pretty much out of the question with Tinkerer, and you can’t trust your flimsy and short-lived gadgets to do much better. I end up using a hodge-podge of grenades, gunshots and gadgets to do a little of everything but feeling pretty ineffective. In ORvR, the short-ranged nature of this tree is out of the question.


But if there’s a mastery path that can make me feel good about normally being a Tinkerer, it’s Rifleman. Plainly put, this is a dog of a spec, to be avoided at all costs unless you’re actively trying to pick up a disease or something. Engineers pretty much underwhelm across the board with their rifle/pistol damage, which is so meager that it gives you the impression you’ve got a pea shooter and are flicking the enemy with spitballs instead of hot lead. Gun blast (2 seconds cast) and Snipe (3 seconds) take far too long in fast-paced combat (often I’d try to use Snipe on an enemy only to find that he ran out of range before the spell finished casting) — like most other Engineer skills, I’d gladly trade a longer cooldown on skills for instant cast ability.

Using auto-attack with Rifleman is feasible but pretty dull, and I don’t think I’m the only one who feels as though Engineers attack incredibly slow with rifles. Forget gun turret too — the bugged sound is still annoying the crap out of everyone, and the damage is meaningless.


That brought me back to Grenadier, which turns out is pretty competitive in ORvR. For one, it’s a very quick, painless and easy to understand spec in terms of attack order. Line up your grenades on your hotbar, 1-2-3-4-5, and let ’em fly without a second thought. Sticky bomb is one of the most fun abilities Engineers have, a DOT that unleashes a final AOE blast when it’s done — and since the enemy is constantly daring in and out of their zerg crowd in ORvR, the final blast has a great chance of hitting everyone. Acid bomb and fragment grenade add to the AOE DOT damage, flashbomb is awesome for spell interrupt and single-target damage, and who doesn’t like being able to punt a guy with a concussive grenade? Plus, the bombardment turret has good range and some moderate AOE damage to pump out.

I’ve also been playing around with strafing run, a directional ability a la friction burn that has a plane swoop in and pelt the ground in front of you with machine gun fire, doing some damage and knocking guys over. In ORvR, the limited range of this skill kept me from using it a lot, but any time I got sucked in by the Magus’ magnet, you can be sure I was hitting this and backpedaling like crazy.

Now, of course, none of this is my final judgment on these specs — I still have quite a ways to go to get all the mastery points I need to flesh out a complete path.  But if nothing else, playing with respeccing makes me even more eager to see what changes — improvements — Mythic might bring to this career in the near future.



  1. What is most frustrating about Tinkerer line is just how much better the equivalent line is for the Magus. They get a wound buff PLUS melee damage shield instead of the useless Bugman’s Keg; and their level 40 channeled attack is pbaoe instead of single target like the engi’s. Also, their aoe pulse ability (mirror of Static Discharge) is affected by int like the rest of their spells, where as ours currently scales with strength(!). I have still had lots of success with tinkerer, but only because I run with good bright wizards who can take advantage of the (admittedly cheesy) magnet.

    I actually think Rifleman is undervalued as a spec. I still prefer Grenadier for sure, but if you are someone who enjoys a long range nuker type class the rifleman path is fairly pleasing. Find someone to run with who has an MS(Healing Debuff to you non-wow vets) and you can pretty effectively burn any light-armored target down. The 150ft range on snipe is no end of fun, and Focused Fire is very solid single target damage against a target with healing debuffed. The only real let-down in the Rifleman line is Phosphorous Shells, which is totally out of place in the single target line and is very weak to boot. Would love to see another utility shot in it’s place, like a ranged disorient, knockdown, or snare.

  2. Thanks for your time on this one. I am just hitting level 11 and was not sure what spec to focus on.

  3. The Engineer/Magus are so very different that it baffles a lot of long term MMO players and it takes the right type of person to play them properly.

    I know in the past, a single Engineer disrupted the group of twelve that I was in doing a Keep Siege in T3 that we ultimately failed, all because of a single annoying Engineer.

    Trust me, there was a lot of swearing on Vent about that little bugger, and you know the person on the other end was just loving it.

    Grenades, turrets, shooting, it all works well as far as I am concerned, as someone who has been on the end of being annoyed by an Engineer.

  4. You guys (gals) may be squishy, but at least you have some med to long range attacks. My WH is also a squishy when it comes to combat situations I can use my good DPS skills. I have had some success in T1 and a little in T2 with the “sneak around back healer hunting” but it seems players on the Destro side are adapting quickly. Once I pop from stealth I have a very short time to take out my target before I get swarmed by Black Orcs and other tanks. It is a one way trip, I just hope the others on the Order side appreciate the fact I’m pulling agro from them for at least a short time.

    I know it is a whine, but I would like to see the casting times reduced for the WH also. We are a great damage dealing class but a 30 sec recast to our stealth ability is a bit much. Stealth is our bread and butter but far more often than not you only get one chance to use it before its “Respawn Time” again.

  5. My magus is lvl 26 and I get top damage in scenarios about 25% of the time but I’m in the top 5 nearly every single time. Ones like phonix gate where people tend to be very spread out I do less damage though, about middle of the pack. But in Morkane Temple I have a couple of times done twice as much damage as the 2nd place person in damage. I eat Engi’s and Bright Wizards for Brunch to be honest. And I just got this Fire Streaming ability that does 900 damage over 6 seconds and if you die from it you turn into a blue horror that attacks your friends. Just awsome. Why is the Magus only 6% of the pop? because it’s a very complex class to play. I have every key on my keyboard around my left hand binded to do some type of attack. I never had to do that before for any game I have ever played and I’m an MMO vet. EQ, EQ2, WoW, PlanetSide, City of Heroes, I only needed the number keys until this Magus. Now my attacks are not just the number keys 1 – 6 but also Q, E, T, F, Z, X, C, V, and I need more…

  6. I was able to get Strifing run last night. It was bugged for me it wasn’t knocking people back. Sometimes it didn’t have a cooldown but would just do the animation. I put a bug report in I hope they fix it soon. It was pretty much doing the same thing the landmine bug was doing a few weeks back.

    On another note I like path of the grenadere in large fights. The AOE is just awesome. When I was defending a keep I was hitting 360 DPS. Yellow numbers were flying all over the screen.

  7. Engineers just do not do enough damage for any enemy to worry about. I am grenade spec and I usually top the charts, but it is all DoT’s. It adds up, but if there are a few healers around it is easily healed.

    I never use gun shot anymore, firebomb is a 1sec cast time. Also, even with our Flak Jacket armor, it feels like we are wearing cloth.

    Tinkerers are supposed to be close to melee, so they should really get more survivability.

  8. If we had limited lives in PvP, healers would just stop playing. We really do die so much.

  9. I agree. Tinkerer is a one-trick pony with electromagnet. Rifleman is as you described it – no good at all. This leaves us only with Grenadier.

    There is so much to love about the engineer, but the class is so frustrating with the lack of dps and questionable survivability. (Don’t get me started on how you have to reapply flak jacket after every melee encounter – at a minimum make it an instant cast.)

    If you want to be RDPS, then you make up for a lack of armor with high dps. But with the engineers, we have poor armor AND poor dps. One of these has to change. Give us survivability or more firepower. But we are really lacking in both unless you go Grenadier simply for AOE damage. We still cannot beat anyone one-on-one unless you get the occasional squig hereder. But it seems like people abandoned that class and for good reason.

    EA/Mythic if you are reading this – give us a reason to stick with this class. Higher DPS or higher survivability. Either one is fine.

  10. Sorcs that have not juiced up yet are solo-able in T3 at least 🙂

  11. Did you say Tinkerers have to wear ‘little overalls’ or did I mis-read that part 😛

  12. Anyone got pointers on how to run a Witch Hunter (something similar to this post for the Engineer)? My brother is having some difficulty adjusting to the lack of having an answer for everything and my Warrior Priest just can’t keep him alive when he’s goes deep into enemy territory. I’ve spec’ed Grace for Sigmar’s Fist, but perhaps I should go with Salvation to boost my healing output.

    Final thought: Mythic needs to fix Prayer Of Absolution. The range is much, much shorter than 150ft. More like 15ft. Either the skill needs to be fixed or the text needs to be corrected to reflect the shorter range.

  13. I posted above about playing a WH. It is tough to live in a big fight. They tend to draw serious agro when they take out a healer. Best plan for me is to try and hang back with the group if you want to stay alive, or screw it! Rush in for a good kill. It is all about timing and target selection (in my book). Solo is nice…if I get the jump on you, you are mine 99% of the time.

  14. Your point about implementing some kind of mechanism to limited the number of lives players get in ORvR is huge. Going back to my PvP Everquest server days said they needed to put a limit on the number of deaths you can have in a zone before your locked out for a period of time. I think a 5 death limit in a tier’s PvP lake with a 4-6 hour lockout would be awesome. Maybe even a 3 death limit if you release and no limit when rez’d by a player. The death counter would reset 6 hours after your first death.

    Some people might complain about it at first, but everyone got used to Raid timers and all that stuff in WoW and this is somewhat similar in my mind.

  15. I think I’d get used to a cap, but I wouldn’t like it at first. I’d also lobby for a higher death toll before being cut off. But how does a death limit help foster Open RvR? Limiting the number of times I can die doesn’t make me want to play in a free-flowing battle line in uncontrolled chaos. It makes me want to load up a group of 23 guild-mates and stomp the everloving-snot out of the poor solo players running around.

    You want to make dying painful? Want to make players be more careful with their rushes? Start stacking up a “death penalty” to XP and RP. Say 10% per death, maximum of 50 or 60% penalty. Participating in a kill gets you back 5%. Landing the finishing blow removes 15% of the penalty. This encourages making smart decisions, working with the group, and reduces the urge to zerg, all without making the RvR lakes the wasteland home of Guilded Warbands.

    BTW, I found some Witch Hunter guides and have sent them to my brother. Now if he will take heed to the advice, we should be good.

  16. I enjoy playing a grenadier. Yes, I rarely get a killing blow. Yes, I do have a noticable and dramatic effect on battles. Our AoE grenades may be DoTs, and it is relatively easy to heal a single person taking constant damage. I make it my business to stack DoTs on 15 to 20 people. I move behind friendly lines, and drop grenade after grenade on clusters of enemies. There is simply no physical way for healers to keep up with that much damage spread around that many people – which makes it possible for whatever burst DPS that we might have to finish burning a few targets down. This can and does swing fights in our favor.

    I won’t argue that grenadier damage is weak in small groups or when going solo, but as artillery support it really hits its stride.

  17. If you instituted a lockout, ORvR would go from slow to dead faster than you could say “Scenario Queue”. Mythic is already having trouble getting people to play in the lakes rather than the scenarios, this suggestion would kill any hope of recovery.

    Part of the reason PvP in this game is fun is the complete lack of onerous death penalties.

  18. Koljam has the Grenadier fun down. Soften everyone up by putting couple of DoTs on everything. The healers cannot respond to burst damage if they are constantly HoTing everyone.

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